Monday, February 2, 2015

month in objects: January

camera: I've been wanting one of these plastic analogue cameras for a while, and a Christmas gift certificate made it a reality / fortune: a new voyage will fill your life with untold memories / gold stars: tracking 10,000 steps per day is much more fun when stickers are involved / benefits guide: seven hours in a library is a really long time to wait for an IDNYC card / top 10 guide: we booked our next vacation - april can't come soon enough! / travel show: because there's a trade show for everyone / ticket stub: from the oh so wonderful "A Gentleman's Guide To Love and Murder / key: a back-up prop from my last show that I literally carried around in my pocket for weeks on end / dvd: I don't get the chance to watch a lot of movies, but on new year's day we sat down and did nothing but that all day long

Ok just go with me for a second here.

Last month I found myself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This in and of itself is not an especially interesting fact. I'm a big fan of art museums in general, and that museum in particular, and their "pay what you wish" admission fee means that I can, and do, frequent it's halls every few months or so. On that particular afternoon I had taken my usual route - a left into Greek and Roman Statues followed by a sharp right into Arts of Africa/Oceania/Americas (my favorite gallery), and then a quick loop around both floors of Modern and Contemporary Art. But it was then I found myself very lost. Not metaphorically, but actually confused as to which direction I needed to take next in order to go towards Asian Art (my second favorite gallery). In theory, one can cut right through European Paintings to quickly find herself in the middle of a relaxing Zen Garden, but in reality the European Painting wing is a dizzying labyrinth of more religious art than I saw in my five months in Florence. And while I thought I was making progress, leaving all portraits, still life's, and bloody beheadings in my wake, I was instead going deeper and deeper into the belly of the beast. A few wrong turns later and I somehow found myself in the middle of the American Wing. Deciding my quest for all things Asian was fairly futile by this point, I decided to take a look around - and saw these three paintings:

images courtesy of

The Artist's Letter Rack by William Michael Harnett, and Office Board and Old Souvenirs by John F. Peto - three still life's done in the style of trompe l'oeil (trickery of the eye) that depict ordinary, everyday objects in deliberately staged arrangements. I'm not 100% sure what it was about these paintings that made me stop in my tracks and take such notice, but I stood there for about 10 minutes simply contemplating the images. I loved that each painting so clearly described the artists' lives - I know who they recently corresponded with, what performances they had just seen, and what they were reading. And I loved that though the objects in each painting are seemingly small and inconsequential (an old ticket stub? a ripped envelope?) they were clearly important enough to each painter that he spent the time and energy to actually paint them. These images are not merely a show of technique - artists paint bowls of fruit and stacks of boxes in order to hone and show their technical skill. Instead, these are paintings of items that really meant something to the artists, so much that they felt the need to memorialize them forever on pieces of canvas.

And for some reason, this really resonated with me.

I did eventually find my way out of the American Wing and over to Asian Art, but I just couldn't shake the idea of these collages. Luckily, this all came at a time in which I was struggling to figure out what I was going to do for my Year of 2015 Documentation Project. In 2013 I took one picture per day, but that stressed me out to no end. In 2014 I scaled it back to taking one picture per week, and while I totally loved that project and was immensely pleased with the outcome, I wanted something different for 2015. And that's where the first picture in this post comes in (see? I told you to stick with me for a minute). Each month, I'm going to photograph one collage made up of items (from that month) that hold special significance to me. By the end of the year, I'll have twelve pictures that, if all goes as planned, tell the cohesive story of my 2015.

So if you're somehow still reading at this point, then thanks for sticking with me (in true Mary-fashion, I took 1,000 words to describe one photograph) - and I hope you enjoyed this journey through my love of art and my past month ;)

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